About a week and a half ago, I sat down with my girlfriend as she watched the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, arguably the most anticipated fashion show of the year.  All she kept saying was how beautiful and skinny each of them were as they strutted down the runway. In my mind, all I could think was how they all needed some skin on their bones and how it is possible that girls of this generation prize this skinny image so much.  It got me thinking on changes the media could make to give out better images…

Model Erin Heatherton poses at the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

For decades, the media has played an immense role in shaping society’s images through various methods.  Whether for good or bad, it is constantly producing messages that are being picked up and utilized by the public.  With that being said, the media has so much power in its hands and has the ability to shape society. It has the power to help the public become better citizens, but it also has the ability to harm them.  If I had power over the messages that are portrayed by the media, I would make sure they would only provide a helpful purpose in society, and I would attempt to abolish any unhealthy messages.

The main thing that I would focus on getting rid of is the media’s current image of “beauty”.  Society’s image of outer beauty has changed immensely over time, and is becoming more and more important to young women.  Back in the Victorian Era, portliness was considered a sign of beauty because it portrayed the woman as a healthy, well-fed woman, possibly belonging to a wealthy family.  Paleness of the skin was also considered to be a sign of beauty. Nowadays, the media portrays the most “attractive” women as skinny, tan, large-bosomed figures.  Back in the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe was considered to be America’s iconic sex symbol.  She was by no means fat, and was considered to have the looks of a goddess.  She was 5’5” and her dress size ranged from 12-16.  Today, an ordinary model who appears in magazines and/or TV ads does not fall below 5’9” and the average dress size is 6-8.  These models are acting as role models for young girls, who end up starving themselves to fit the current image of “beautiful”.  At the rate society is going, future models will be as thin as paper in the next generation. The message that the media is sending about the female body image is beyond unhealthy.  It can lead girls to anorexia and other serious health conditions, in their attempt to fit society’s image of beautiful.  A few years ago, Dove made a bold move by creating a commercial with models that do not fit the current image of “beautiful”. It portrayed several young women, concerned about their appearance, but they eventually grow and realize what their “true colors” really are, and how beautiful they are in reality.  This is the type of message that I would want to send if I was in charge of creating media messages.  It shows that everyone can be beautiful and healthy, as long as they are comfortable in their skin and do not give in to the self-consciousness that may be derived by their viewings of current models.